I teach and write about commercial photography. Not babies and weddings and senior photography – that is consumer focus and I happily admit I am not involved in that end of the business.
My focus is on commercial. Business to business – imagery for commerce is what gets my attention focused.
I am often asked how to find commercial photography clients by photographers who are intrigued, but haven’t a clue as where they can actually find a gig.
I have a lot of advice for them, but the top three items are these:
Take a hard, cold look at your portfolio.
Does it have photographs that could be used commercially in it? Are the subjects ones that would lend them to business use, or to convince someone to buy or do something? Is the book a scattered collection of images taken for yourself, or is it a ‘body of work’ that can convince someone to hire you?
For instance, that pristine lake sunrise has minimal commercial value, but add a couple in a bright yellow kayak paddling out and you have everything from lifestyle to pharmaceutical to insurance to product clients wanting to see it.
Take a shot of a girl on the beach… meh. So what. Limited commercial value if any. Have that girl playing with a dog or running– lifestyle. Have her listening to music on a waterproof device, or doing yoga… bam: commercial uses abound.
Take your portfolio apart image by image and write down possible uses, then see if any images like that ARE being used. (Google is our friend.)
To be seen as a commercial photographer, your portfolio MUST show clients you understand what it is they want.
Research clients in your immediate proximity.
Use Google, Yahoo, Bing, LinkedIn, Facebook and any other sites that you visit regularly to find clients that currently USE commercial photography. A quick search in my area this morning found four small manufacturing companies opened in the last quarter and all of them have brochures, collateral, product sheets and more.
Spending time daily doing this will result in a large list of clients you never knew existed. They may be direct client hires, or you may have to go through their designer, but you can find these sorts of clients in almost any town.
And their budgets may surprise you. Never exempt anyone because of what you THINK they will pay. Find out for yourself– you can be pleasantly rewarded.
Adopt this marketing strategy and put it in your calendar.
Most photographers do not market themselves. It is just a fact. I would suspect that less than 90% market more than an hour a month.
So do this instead. Make a rule for yourself that you will ‘touch’ three clients a day, for three days a week. Every Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday you will send an email, direct marketing piece, or place a call to a prospective client.
That means at the end of a week, you have had contact with 9 possible clients. That is 36 per month, 108 per quarter. 424 client touches in a year.
How does that compare to the typical “oh, I send some mailers once in a while…” approach? It wipes the floor with that insipid attempt. And the key is “schedule it”.
More good news – feel free to increase that number by 2 to 5 per day three times a week… do the math. Astounding what perseverance can bring – try it.
About The Author
Succeeding as a commercial photographer is not magic, it just needs some focus and hard work. Photographer Don Giannatti shares how it can be done. nope, there is no magic bullet, just hard focused work. Don also runs the Project 52 Pros workshop for aspiring commercial and editorial photographers. You can visit his website here, online portfolio here, and his wonderful lighting essentials here.